Students gather to share community while eating together

How to Build Culture in the Workplace With Food

Today’s workplaces are constantly changing. Over the past few years, the office has shifted dramatically. There are more important aspects of a job than just the amount of money you make and the work you’ll be doing. Now, what’s becoming crucial are your co-workers, the environment you work in and whether you’re satisfied going into work each day.

In other words, workplace culture is fast becoming one of the most important parts of someone’s job search.

What Is Workplace Culture?

The idea of office culture can involve many aspects of a company — the environment, the way employees interact with one another, the management style and the overall attitude of an organization all blend together to create office culture. While culture may seem like an abstract topic to some, it actually has a significant impact on various metrics of an organization, and employees are now viewing culture as more important than ever.

Though many aspects go into creating workplace culture, it’s usually very easy to delineate positive cultures from toxic ones:

  • Toxic workplace culture: A poor company culture will involve negative relationships between employees. There’s bad communication between employees and management, stemming from a lack of trust, a disdain for their jobs and more. Sometimes, managers will bully or embarrass employees for making mistakes. The bottom line and productivity are emphasized above all else, even when it negatively impacts employees’ well-being. A toxic workplace will usually have a high turnover rate, poor employee retention and morale will be low.
  • Positive workplace culture: Here, positive, open communication between employees built on trust creates a place where people want to work. Everyone involved in the company recognizes the humanity of one another and makes it a point to emphasize their well-being. The company sets clear, achievable goals, and employees are motivated to meet them. There’s a sense of continuous growth and learning in the company.

For employees who have experienced a toxic workplace culture, the difference between the two will be clear. Entering a toxic environment every day can be exhausting, and employees can start to dread their work. However, a positive environment can motivate someone to work even harder. The flexibility, freedom and open lines of communication enable an employee to over-achieve for their own sake. This positivity can raise the performance of an entire company.

How Do You Create a Positive Workplace Culture?

Though it’s important to determine what kind of workplace culture you have, one of the more challenging issues is how to build a culture that positively impacts your employees. While you can’t build a better culture overnight, you can take small steps to work toward that goal.

1. Hire the Right People

A company’s culture will reflect the attitudes of the people in it. Therefore, you’ll have to find people who have beliefs, characteristics and goals that align with your plans for your company. Look for people with a positive attitude, excellent communication skills and a growth mindset.

2. Exercise Strong Leadership

Keep in mind that workplace culture starts at the top. If you don’t communicate and establish a clear culture, your employees will likely feel lost. Do so by building the core values of your company and instilling them in everyday tasks. Setting values that emphasize failure as growth, continuous learning and open and positive communication between employees are a few starting points for boosting employee morale and creating a positive culture.

3. Use Positive Communication

Maintaining proper communication between employees is a key indicator of the culture of a workplace. If communication is unclear, stilted or nonexistent, it’s usually the result of poor company culture. Issues that stem from a lack of communication include blame passing from one employee to another and employees lacking accountability due to fear of losing their jobs.

Be sure to emphasize clear and open communication between your employees. Find ways to make communication easy and effective — show that communication is key to helping each person grow and succeed. Make sure workers aren’t afraid of asking questions or communicating a problem, either. Prioritizing positive, active communication builds trust between employees and can increase performance in the long run.

4. Foster Relationships

Note that culture is built on the relationships in your company. These bonds should be deeper than just communicating deadlines — employees should see each other as human beings and be aware of each other’s well-being. This point doesn’t mean they have to be actively involved in their co-workers’ lives. Instead, it simply means that bonds should go deeper than seeing one another as a means to an end.

Creating better relationships could be as simple as asking someone how they’re doing, whether they have any plans for the weekend or how they’re handling their current workload. A simple question showing your investment in someone else’s day will make that person feel welcomed and understood. In, it’ll build trust between people, which is always a positive.

Additionally, work parties, events and simple conversations over lunch can all help foster meaningful relationships and build trust and communication between employees.

5. Be Respectful

If people don’t feel respected in their workplace, their work will likely suffer. These individuals won’t have as much motivation to execute their jobs well, and their self-esteem may take a hit in an environment with constant disrespect.

No matter the hierarchy of the relationship, treating an employee with respect is integral to the culture of a company. This can be as simple as asking someone to complete a task in a polite way instead of demanding it. A few subtle changes of tone will help build a positive environment based on respect for others. Another way to show respect is to be inclusive — highlight your workplace as an environment where all kinds of people are welcome.

Why Workplace Culture Matters

Since building a positive workplace culture takes considerable work, you could be wondering how much it pays off in the long run. Here are some ways creating a positive workplace culture can be worth it:

Toxic Cultures Waste Money

Ultimately, toxic environments lead to high levels of burnout, extreme turnover rates and even lawsuits. These situations result in a loss of revenue for your business. The toxicity will also break continuity, as constant turnover will require more training, meaning less time is spent on working. On the other hand, a positive culture will boost productivity and save on needless costs.

Culture Is Becoming a Commodity

Recently, culture has become something even more than just an environment. Now, it’s another way for a company to sell itself to potential employees. The job market’s most talented, skilled workers are no longer satisfied with good pay — they want a place where they have the freedom to continually grow and excel. More often, people are looking for a positive workplace culture to help them achieve their goals.

If you want to attract top talent and keep up with competitors in your field, emphasizing your positive company culture is a must.

Positive Cultures Allow Companies to Be Flexible And Adapt

A positive workplace culture has excellent communication, competent employees and problem-solving abilities, making it flexible and adaptable to the dynamic landscape of today’s job market. If the company goes through adversity or is forced to change, employees, managers and owners will find various ways to change and adapt to the new circumstances. An organization that can’t keep up with change will fall behind.

10 Tips for Building Workplace Culture With Food

Aside from building a respectful, communicative team and emphasizing relationships and inclusivity, you may want to explore another unique way to boost employee morale — food. This sacred nourishment has been bringing humans together for millennia — why not use it to build a positive culture in your workplace? There are endless possibilities and ways to involve food while building on positive aspects of your company.

Here are 10 tips for building workplace culture with food.

1. Offer Free Snacks

Everyone loves free food in the office. Having some nourishment throughout the day can help boost morale and performance. Additionally, your employees won’t have to bring their own snacks to fuel them, so they’ll be able to save money.

If you leave work snacks out in the breakroom, people could have conversations as they go to grab a snack. If you hand it out, you can have individual conversations with employees to determine how work is going and whether they have any questions.

Overall, people love talking and forming bonds over food, and offering an array of snacks for work can create the perfect conditions to help you build a collaborative, positive culture.

2. Create Spaces to Eat Together

Some businesses take their appreciation of food to another level — lunchrooms, cafes and restaurants are popping up on company campuses nationwide, allowing employees to have lunch right at their place of work. Having lunch together every day is an effective way to help teams build relationships and form bonds.

Ultimately, employees will find that the convenience helps them stay productive, and they’ll notice the company is looking out for their well-being.

3. Serve Unique and Diverse Cuisines

Providing food and places to eat is a step in the right direction, but what food you’re serving matters just as much. Having unique and diverse cuisines will add personality and fun to the workday. Consider having a weekly meal where someone makes their favorite dish and brings it in for the office to share. This approach will create an inclusive culture and allow people to show a side of themselves separate from the workplace.

4. Make Fresh Meals

The same old vending machine snacks at work can get old, and they can often be unhealthy. Switch things up by offering the office food service with fresh work meals prepared by chefs. This idea will create an engaging experience, and your employees will certainly be impressed that they only have to walk a few feet from their offices to find a delicious lunch. Plus, what’s better than a nutritious meal to help them be more productive?

5. Create Food-Themed Events

One of the best ways to build a positive work culture is to create a food-themed party for your employees. There are plenty of options to consider, including:

  • Gameday: If your local team is playing that night or during the weekend, serve a few gameday favorites — pizza, wings, nachos and dips.
  • Summer barbecue: Throw a summer barbecue party by cooking up some ribs and barbecue chicken. Pair with lemonade and iced tea, and have a fun, relaxing lunch with the team while sharing some tasty food.
  • Under the sea: An ocean-themed party can give you an excuse to indulge in your favorite seafood options. Consider shrimp, lobster and salmon as the main courses for your lunch.

Whichever theme you pick, you can inspire people to get excited about bringing their own signature dishes to add to the celebration. Or, for a stress-free event, you can have a hospitality company take care of the food aspect for you, so you can spend time fostering relationships and community with your team.

6. Give Back as a Team With Food

Giving back with food is another effective way to build morale in your team. Try setting up a food drive, where employees bring in nonperishable food items to donate to a local organization. Alternatively, you could find a community garden to contribute to as a team, helping grow delicious fruits and vegetables for the neighborhood. Feel free to talk with your employees about different ideas.

7. Send Care Packages

When you have a team of remote workers, you may not always be able to show your appreciation as much as you’d like. After all, an email or a quick meeting on your laptop doesn’t carry the same weight as in-person interactions. That’s why you have to find new ways to let employees know you appreciate the work they’re doing.

One way to do that is through care packages. Look for beautifully-crafted care boxes with a personal note and gourmet food you can easily send to your employees. This is a simple gesture that can make someone feel valued, even when they’re thousands of miles away from the office.

8. Choose Healthy Foods

When you choose a healthy food option for your team, it shows you’re invested in them and want to see them succeed. Simply having a meal with fresh ingredients can show the effort you’re willing to put in for your team. The same concept goes for snacks. While chips and cookies are tasty treats that most people will enjoy, you should also set out healthier alternatives, including fruits, for anyone who wants them.

9. Collaborate Over Food

There’s nothing like a shared meal to inspire conversation and collaboration. Help your team work better with each other and your clients and customers by setting out food platters during meetings or scheduling important discussions at a local restaurant. As you share some delicious food and drink, your team can share ideas and make connections.

10. Offer Cooking Classes

Try taking some cooking classes with your team so you can share a fun, enriching experience. Schedule a time for a private chef to do a demonstration in your office lunchroom during the workday. Alternatively, you could set aside time after work or on the weekend for interested employees to meet at a location to take a class. To include remote workers in the fun, do an at-home cooking challenge over a video call.

Benefits of Building Culture in the Workplace

With the above tips, you’ll start to see your workplace evolve into a welcoming, friendly environment that inspires collaboration and growth. The benefits of a positive workplace are numerous, from better performance results to talented new recruits. Here are some ways building culture will help your company:

  • Boosts morale: Probably the most obvious benefit of a positive workplace culture is the effect it’ll have on morale. In a positive workplace culture, employees will feel freer to do their jobs without fear, and they’ll have the flexibility to try new approaches and help grow the company.
  • Saves money: A positive culture will lead to better employee retention rates. Through clear communication, boosted performances and opportunities for growth, you can put the money you’d be spending on training new workers toward the company’s broader goals.
  • Attracts better workers: A good work environment attracts competent workers. If you’re looking to build a team with young talent, you must ensure your office is a place where people truly want to work.
  • Inspires loyalty: When workers see a high-up team member putting effort into employee recognition, well-being and making sacrifices to better the company culture, they’ll likely take that to heart and find ways to make the company better themselves.

Choosing American Dining Creations

Overall, food is an exceptional tool that can help build a positive culture in your workplace. However, it can be challenging to find dining solutions yourself and search for a reliable vendor. Fortunately, American Dining Creations offers the services you need to provide food in your workplace in a helpful, streamlined way.

American Dining Creations started out 80 years ago as a coin machine business and evolved through novelties and vending machines. Over time, we’ve become experts in the hospitality sector, providing dining and catering services to various industries across the country. Though we’ve become one of the 20 largest culinary service companies in the United States, we remain dedicated to creating exceptional service for our customers.

The team at American Dining Creations is made up of culinary experts and hospitality professionals that can give you a one-of-a-kind dining experience. With our commitment to using high-quality, fresh ingredients, we can provide numerous delicious options for healthy meals. Of course, we also aim to be versatile. If you have specific needs for your workplace, we’ll work with you to achieve a solution that works.

Contact American Dining Creations Today

Are you interested in working with us to provide food in the workplace? Contact us today to learn more about how we can supply delicious and nutritious work lunches and snacks for your company. Let us help you build a strong company culture through food.